Medium may need to heed the history of Blackberry on their approach to mobile

I am not the most prolific author on Medium. I have largely ceased writing on the platform since March because I can no longer use my favourite authoring tool — my Samsung mobile — to create content.

You see, earlier this year, Medium removed the ability of authors to create stories on their mobile apps, and also in the mobile mode of the browser on mobile devices. Here is the info about why:

As of March 2022, Medium iOS and Android apps no longer support the story editor.

With our focus on an exceptional reading experience, Medium has made the difficult decision to remove story editing features from our native apps. The Medium editor will continue to be accessible from the desktop web app.

Reading carefully, to focus on the reading experience they are removing story editing. That isn’t really much a coherent reason. The story editing feature does not interefere with the reading feature, so what they are really saying is that they are pulling back on developer support on that feature. Though that, in itself, does not seem that much of a pull-back as they have to maintain the editor in the desktop web app, so it probably implies that they were maintaining two code bases for mobile and web so didn’t want to invest in that technical debt.

I like a mobile experience. I am writing this in “desktop” mode on my iPad, and it is not a good experience. It is slow and clunky. The mobile app was always better. As more and more people move away from having any desktop, what does that mean for Medium’s author population.

It is a real shame. If I have a good idea for a story, I often want to start some notes and maybe get in some pictures from my phone, but by the time I get near a desktop, other things get priority, especially when I need to email photos from my phone to myself.

Blackberry were a rock star company in information technology, led by the inspirational tech genius that is Mike Lazaridis. They revolutionised mobile email and messaging, and delivered a great experience on their cool devices. But they missed a big trick with cross-platform messaging, and creating a platform on which other developers would want to create mobile apps on.

Apple, Samsung, WhatsApp, and all the other companies in this space stole their lunch. Blackberry went from rock star to has-been within what seemed like the blink of the eye.

Medium want to focus on the reading experience for their mobile apps, but if they ignore the mobile experience for authors then it might get to a stage where readers have nothing to read!

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Stephen Redmond

Stephen Redmond

Stephen Redmond, Big Data, AI & Data Viz Professional. MSc in Data Analytics. Qlik Luminary. Author and blogger. All opinions my own.